Campaign goals

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iSPEX-EU is the first Europe-wide citizen science campaign of the iSPEX project.

The iSPEX project actively involves citizens in the scientific measurement of air pollution. With the iSPEX add-on you can transform your smartphone into an optical sensor that is suited to measure tiny atmospheric particles, also called aerosols. Atmospheric aerosols play an important but as-yet poorly understood role in climate and air quality, with significant impacts on our environment, health, and air traffic.

To asses their role and consequential implications, aerosols need to be measured with high spatio-temporal resolution. Present ground-based aerosol monitoring networks are limited in spatial coverage. Satellite-based aerosol monitoring is, despite its global coverage, limited in spatial and temporal resolution (with global coverage up to once a day with a ground resolution of a few kilometers only), and lacks sufficient information on aerosol particle characteristics. Therefore, a different strategy is needed to overcome these current limitations.

Following an initial citizen science campaign in the Netherlands in 2013, the iSPEX project is now crossing borders with a first Europe-wide campaign: iSPEX-EU. This campaign will run from 1 September to 15 October 2015 in major cities in Europe. iSPEX-EU aims to:

  • make atmospheric science accessible to everyone, by active participation in scientific measurements.
  • form a network of thousands of people all over Europe that perform iSPEX measurements and provide information at locations and times that are not covered by current air pollution monitoring efforts.

With your help and that of thousands of others iSPEX-EU will be a first effort largest-ever citizen campaign for air pollution. By joining iSPEX-EU you can be part of a major project to help understand our atmosphere and make an important scientific contribution.

Join iSPEX-EU and become an iSPEX scientist in your city!

Some important notes …

  • The iSPEX-EU campaign is an experiment. Results are not guaranteed.
  • The goal of the iSPEX project is to measure the concentration of atmospheric particles, their size distribution, and a rough indication of their composition based on the determination of the complex refractive index. The latter quantities are important for health studies on atmospheric particles or particulate matter.
  • Neither the preliminary nor the final results of iSPEX measurements provide quantities for which official or legal standards are applicable.
  • The results of iSPEX measurements cannot be directly compared with Particulate Matter (PM) measurements; they are of a different nature. A direct comparison of iSPEX measurements with limit values for PM10 or PM2.5 (in ug/m3) is therefore not possible. Visit the air pollution portal of the European Environmental Agency (EEA) for a live map of official PM10 measurements over Europe.
  • With iSPEX you measure not only the atmospheric particles close to the ground, but also those at higher altitudes, up to the top of the atmosphere. Whether iSPEX measurements are relevant for the air you breathe can only be determined with the help of additional measurements and/or model calculations.
  • iSPEX only works properly for measurements of the cloud-free sky.
  • An individual iSPEX measurement, or preliminary result, only provides a qualitative indication of the sky brightness at a low accuracy. The App returns this preliminary result, represented by a color-code, directly after the measurement is taken.
  • The preliminary result of an individual iSPEX measurement that is returned by the App is related to the optical thickness of the atmospherical particles, or aerosol optical thickness (AOT). This is complex information and a proper interpretation requires specialist knowledge.
  • Individual iSPEX measurements have to be averaged over roughly 100 measurements to obtain reliable values.
  • For the analysis of iSPEX measurements, the iSPEX-EU team only takes into account the measurements obtained throughout the campaign period, 1 September – 15 October 2015, in the participating European cities.
  • The analyses of the iSPEX measurements and the determinations of the quantities mentioned above are carried out by the iSPEX project team and will only be made available through or with explicit permissions of the iSPEX-EU and iSPEX project members.
  • The iSPEX measurements obtained during the iSPEX-EU campaign will be used for scientific research. Scientific results will be anonimized before analysis and publication.